Red Enchilada Sauce

This fan favorite Red Enchilada Sauce is one of our most popular sauce recipes. You’ll never buy canned enchilada sauce again!

Use it for cheese enchiladas, empanadas or even some of your favorite Mexican soups and casseroles – but once you go homemade you’ll never buy store bought again. In fact, we never buy Green Enchilada Sauce either!

Red Enchilada Sauce in a glass mason jar.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Have you ever made or had homemade red enchilada sauce? It seems like it might be a hard thing to do, but the recipe we are sharing today is simple and a family favorite.

We use it for our Red Cheese Enchiladas and Beef Empanadas, and it’s phenomenal.

Yes, you can buy red enchilada sauce in the can, but it doesn’t compare to this homemade version. It takes just a few ingredients (all the items are pantry staples in my house), and is made in under 20 minutes.

With the chili powder in this recipe, there is some spice, but you can change the amount of powder you used based on what your family likes.

Also note that how much chili powder and which brand you use will determine the color of the sauce. Generic chili powders tend to be darker. And the more powder, the darker the sauce. 😉

How to Make red Enchilada Sauce process pictures.

How to Make red Enchilada Sauce

This sauce is so simple and delicious! Here are the ingredients needed to make it:

  • chili powder (we prefer Gebhardt’s)
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • salt
  • cumin
  • chicken broth

ROUX. The sauce is made by adding oil to a pot and heating on medium heat. Pour in flour and create a roux by whisking together for 1-2 minutes.

SAUCE. Add chili powder, garlic powder, salt cumin and oregano and mix until clumpy. Pour in chicken broth, whisking the entire time and until there are no more clumps. Heat for about 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

*Tip: You know the sauce is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon well. If you see the picture below on the left, you can see that the sauce looks watery and doesn’t stick to the spoon. The picture on the right shows that the sauce is thick and sticks to the back of the wooden spoon showing that it’s ready.

Tips for making easy red enchilada sauce.

Variations

I stand by this sauce as is. It’s easy to make and has a great flavor. However, experimenting in the kitchen is part of my DNA. If that’s you too, here are a few suggestions you might try to adjust the taste and texture of this sauce. 

  • Make it creamy: Whisk in ½ cup of heavy cream. This is especially nice when you want to use the sauce as dressing for nachos or to dip quesadillas in. 
  • Spice it up, or not: You can easily adjust how spicy you want to make this sauce. For a more mild sauce decrease the chili powder alternatively for a spicier sauce increase the amount you use. You can also use a spicier brand of chili powder such as ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder. 
  • Tomatoes: Should you wish to add a blend of tomato into the sauce, simply stir in 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste, or to taste. Note that this will thicken the sauce as well.
  • Thicken: To thicken without changing the taste, use a cornstarch slurry. In a separate bowl combine 1 teaspoon cold water and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Once smooth add it to the pot of sauce. Simmer and stir for a few minutes to thicken. Repeat if necessary.
  • Thinner: If the sauce is too thick you can add a little more chicken broth to thin it out to the desired consistency..
Cheese Enchiladas covered in homemade red enchilada Sauce.

making ahead of time

We always do! In fact, I like to quadruple the batch of seasonings or even the sauce to use for later. For example, I will often combine the following ingredients and keep them in a jar in the cabinet:

  • ¾ cup  Gebhardt chili powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cumin

Then, when I’m making enchiladas, I’ll spoon out 3 heaping tablespoons of the mixture which is equivalent to about one batch. Makes for easy cooking.

Storing info

The other thing I will do is quadruple the entire sauce recipe and STORE it for later. Divide the sauce into 3-4 airtight freezer safe containers label and freeze for up to 2 months. It can also be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Then, when I’m ready to make enchiladas I typically take out the sauce the day before and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. I think heat it up on the stove until it is smooth.

Red enchilada Sauce uses:

We love to use this sauce in a few of our favorite recipes, including:

We sure love this sauce and hope you like it too! It’s definitely become a favorite and one we use for all of our cheese enchiladas.

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe in a Jar.

For more Mexican salsas and sauces:

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

4.97 from 58 votes
This fan favorite Red Enchilada Sauce is one of our most popular sauce recipes. You'll never buy canned enchilada sauce again!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1 jar
Calories 100 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (we prefer Gebhardt’s)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Instructions
 

  • Add oil to a pot and heat on medium heat. Pour in flour and create a roux by whisking together for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add chili powder, garlic powder, salt cumin and oregano and mix until clumpy. 
  • Pour in chicken broth, whisking the entire time and until there are no more clumps. Heat for about 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
  • TIP: You know the sauce is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon well. If you see the picture below on the left, you can see that the sauce looks watery and doesn’t stick to the spoon. The picture on the right shows that the sauce is thick and sticks to the back of the wooden spoon showing that it’s ready.

Video

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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

    1. So glad you love it! Once you try it homemade, it’s hard to go back to the canned stuff. 🙂 Thanks for giving the recipe a try!

  1. 5 stars
    This is so good and easy! I usually double it my family likes it so much! My chili powder is pretty strong so I do decrease that amount some. Never buying can or jar sauce again!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the the best! I was always scared to make my own sauce because I thought it had to be hard! This was so easy and way better than anything from a can! Make sure to use Gebharts!

  3. My hispanic mother made her sauce like this. So glad I found you.
    Is this sauce very spicy? Hers wasn’t. Hers was mild for the grandkids to eat. Dad and the rest topped it off with Chile if they wanted hotter. I’m now 76 and I have to watch hot food.
    I live in Oregon now and I can not find this brand mom used it also.
    Where can I find it?
    We to had Xmas eve with Mexican food. Especially tamales! I want to do Mexican for Xmas eve this year.
    Love and have made several of your recipes.
    Thank you Merry Christmas

    1. We love Mexican for Christmas Eve too! Such a fun tradition. I don’t think the recipe is overly spicy. You can adjust the heat depending on how you and your family like it by how much chili powder you put in it. I have found this brand at Walmart or my local Kroger store. You can find it on Amazon as well. Merry Christmas!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for some ground beef enchiladas to take to work. I also made another batch with a jarred sauce (which is a good sauce BTW) and it was voted that this homemade sauce was better by 90% of my team! Win Win!

  5. I’m not sure how you got to a calorie count of 100…

    2 tbsp of vegetable oil = 240 cal
    4 tbsp of flour = 128 cal
    2 cups chicken broth =25 cal

    Should be around 400 cal per jar…

    Still, fantastic recipe. Delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh, the best red sauce I have ever had. No more can sauce for me. Easy to make and the entire family loved the flavor.

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